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Another look at the 2016 Wondermark calendar!

SAVE ALL THE DATES

Here’s another little peek at the 2016 Wondermark calendar! Just a li’l update to say, over half the calendars have already been sold.  (Update: They are now all gone!) This is great for me! Maybe good for you too, if you got one? But maybe bad, if you haven’t yet!

CLICK

I’ll be accepting orders in the ol’ store (for holiday cards, etc.) through December 18, after which we’ll close down for the holidays. Of course, over at TopatoCo they’re shipping tons of stuff all day long too! And T-Shirt Diplomacy, too. SO MANY CHOICES, SO MANY GOOD THINGS that people you love will think you are very cool for getting them!

I grew up in San Bernardino.

up over car

Above: My dad, quoted in the San Bernardino Sun-Telegram, 1959. When Dad emigrated to America, he could have settled anywhere, really. He ended up in San Bernardino, where he built himself a business and a family and ran both with equal vigor for 50 years.

(Don’t worry — this isn’t going to be a Serious Political Post. Not really.)

Most likely you’ve heard the news this week from San Bernardino, California. A pair of jerks killed a bunch of probably real nice people. What a terrible, terrible event.

Lots of impassioned people are spilling gigaflops of pixel ink on the Big Issues raised by this mass shooting, the largest in…well, a short while.

Political points will be scored by people decrying their opponents for milking the event for political points.

People who already hate certain things (such as Muslims, or guns, or, like me, arguing on the Internet) will discover, folded into their perceptions of this event, newly colorful reasons to hate that same thing even more righteously.

I want to talk about the town. I was born and raised in San Bernardino. I lived there for 18 years, until I moved away to college. My mom and my sisters and their families live there now.

There — that little tiny intake of breath that I heard. If we were speaking face-to-face, I’d hear it clearly. What should I say? Is everything all right? I’m so sorry.

My family is fine. According to Facebook, some friends of friends may or may not have known some of the people affected. (The same is probably true of lots of different news events.)

I, personally (and thankfully), require no special sympathy or attention.

San Bernardino, though, could use some.

It’s had it pretty rough. It’s an old town, founded in the late 1800s, a gateway between the urban sprawl of Los Angeles and the desolate California desert.

It’s got two Rs in its name; it’s not San “Bernadino.” Get your hashtags right, people! Especially news organizations that should know better!

It was a three-industry town: The Santa Fe railroad had headquarters in San Bernardino for many years, and there was the Kaiser Steel mill, and there was Norton Air Force Base, onetime home to dozens of now-obsolete C-141 Starlifters.

All three vanished during my adolescence. The railroad moved its headquarters elsewhere; the steel mill closed; and the base was shuttered. A lot of the people I went to high school with couldn’t wait to leave, and many of us did.

San Bernardino today is the palm-tree edition of the desolate Rust Belt factory town, seasoned with inner-city gang culture overflowing from Los Angeles and meth culture tumbling down from the desert.

Hugely expensive pension liabilities caused the city to declare bankruptcy a few years back, hurting city services, and sky-high unemployment and illegal drug traffic feed off and nourish each other.

So… I’ve never been entirely proud to say I was from San Bernardino. There are nice areas, sure; and around half the people are employed, which is good. My high school had (and continues to have) some good programs.

But at least I had the luxury of knowing that if I said where I was from, people might not know those terrible things about it.

“It’s the home of the very first McDonald’s restaurant,” I could say instead, or if the person is old I could say “Route 66 goes through the center of town,” or if the person looks cool I might say “If you’re going up to Big Bear to ski, you should stop and get a burrito at Rosa Maria’s on Sierra Way.”

Now, I fear that San Bernardino has entered the miserable fraternity of places known only as killing sites, like Sandy Hook, or Newtown, or Aurora.

In college, I had some friends from Littleton, Colorado. They had gone to Columbine High. They had already graduated and moved away when the shooting happened, and had had no involvement with it whatsoever.

Still, it was weird: I couldn’t imagine them having had a normal high school experience, because, you know, they’d gone to Columbine.

How many people will have that weird reaction now to San Bernardino? To the prospect of visiting, or buying property, or going to school, or doing business with my family and friends in San Bernardino? “That San Bernardino?”

I heard one of San Bernardino’s former mayors on the radio today. “We’re a town in transition,” he said wearily, and then, to make the perfunctory point: “I’d say we’re in recovery.”

The shooters’ victims are the fallen men and women. Let nothing take away from that horror, or their families’ grief.

But the shots went on to hit wider targets, too. I’m from San Bernardino. Yes, we must all now add, that San Bernardino.

First Look: Wondermark 2016 Calendar

The 2016 Wondermark Calendar is now available for pre-order! UPDATE: It is now sold out!

We expect them to start shipping in mid-December. Here’s a first look at the (not final) cover…

looking good there buddy

Un-Named Beasts of the Forgotten Wilds; And, The Names I Gave Them

From the Personal Diaries of Dr Priscilla Dustbin, duly recorded on her many travels to the Shadowy Corners of the Globe;

Subsequently mislabeled in the Bodleian Library, and only recently rediscovered by Quite Surprised Researchers seeking Quite Different Things;

Presented here Whole and Entire, unexpurgated, unabridged, without redaction in Any Instance;

Even when it might have been wise to Do So, for the Safety and Well-being of the Reading Public;

All entries assumed True, or, at least, Honest Observations by the Doctor of what she Thought she Saw;

Further judgment Reserved.

As in previous years, the calendar rides through the year on a special backboard, which you may re-use from previous editions if you already have one.

New for this year, every order will ship with a miniature commemorative plaque. This ‘Cast Card’ will feature a portrait of one of the calendar’s characters, along with a full list of their vital statistics. It’s sort of like a baseball card, except not about baseball, and made of wood.

This Cast Card is unique in design to the calendar offering, and one will be included free with all orders. (For those keeping track, it is Cast Card release #2. We have also done one for the Multi-Purpose Cards Kickstarter, which is shipping to backers now!)

And another thing! The very first Wondermark calendar was released December 2007. If this will be your fifth calendar (or more), we consider you a Calendar Ace! If this describes you, then you qualify for a second unique Cast Card, celebrating your achievement. It is a free gift from us, to say thank you!

looking sharp!!!

I’m big on commemorative plaques this season, friends.

More details on the calendar soon… Until then, you may feel free to reserve your copy now! As always, these are strictly limited, and they sell out every year. UPDATE: THEY HAVE

Classic Wondermark Thanksgiving comics

ted stands for thanksgiving? eminently doable!

I hope my American friends have a nice Thanksgiving this week! Here are some instances in which Wondermark has touched upon the subject in the past.

Open ’em all in new tabs and have a good several minutes of reading delight!!

“Man, I hate coming home for the holidays.” — #081; In which a Confrontation occurs (2004)

“Took a couple of bombs, but we changed their minds…” — #251; In which we leave early (2006)

“Are you sure it’s a good idea to let Ted host Thanksgiving dinner? What with his crippling addiction to hallucinogens?” — #356; In which Dinner proves elusive (2007)

“Parking is gonna be awful at the mall today.” — #357; In which Mall Parking sucks (2007)

“This is our humor enforcement agent, Officer Snapwelter.” — #574; There Must be Rules (2009)

“Out on the high seas. Leagues from the nearest land. Lookout sighted a waddle through the waves.” — #983; In which a Feast is netted (2013)

“It’s an amazing coincidence, but we have a feast day that (in our language) ALSO sounds like tánksgív.” — #985; The Gaxian Thanksgiving (2013)

“I’d get into it more if we could stop making national heroes out of the villains from The Scarlet Letter.” — #1079; Of Genocide in General (2014)

DIY Weekend: Kitchen spoon hooks

Last weekend, I made some spoon hangers for my kitchen!

spoon you will know how it was done

Here is how I did this seemingly impossible task.

In our kitchen, we had a large ceramic crock to hold cooking spoons, tongs, and other large utensils. It was a mess!

Stuff was always spilling out, and whenever we’d get a new spatula or something, we’d have to shove it in there with everything else, and the stuff at the bottom would get all gross. OSHA even cited us for it, once.

When I noticed that every utensil (of course) has a hole in the handle, I decided to figure out how to hang the most commonly used pieces in a more accessible place, such as the side of a cabinet, which otherwise is just wasted space which is unacceptable.

We already do something similar with pots — we have a length of chain screwed along the wall, and we hang pots and pans from the links, using metal S-hooks. (The chain also comes in handy if our kitchen ever gets too icy to drive in safely.) So I figured there was probably a way to do something similar with utensils.

I Googled around to see how other people had solved this problem. The best tutorial I found recommended mounting bath towel bars, and hanging S-hooks from them. But the links in that article (to specific products at Ikea) were all expired, and those products weren’t offered anymore.

No matter. I don’t need to buy anything to make this happen!! We’ve fabricated all kinds of weird things at our new studio — it’s the type of place where, rather than buy a four-dollar toilet paper holder, I designed a version for my office roommate Jason to cut out of wood with his laser.

It took ten times the amount of work as screwing in a store-bought piece of plastic, but we made it, doggone it, and I point it out proudly to all our visitors.

As I was looking through some old scrap material, I realized I already had something that would work perfectly well for the kitchen: strips of wooden corner moulding.

it's hip to be square

I forgot to take a picture before I started, so this is a GENERIC IMAGE. This stuff is super cheap, though — a buck and a half per foot at Home Depot. Or, free, if someone leaves some behind after finishing some other job! As I think happened here!

I found a few scraps about a foot long each. I trimmed them to the size that would fit our cabinets, then measured out and drilled holes about an inch and a half apart.

tell me the HOLE truth

The idea is that one side will be screwed into the cabinets, and the other will have a bunch of hooks dangling from it. The picture above shows them post-drilling, drying from a coat of stain. (Please don’t tell USPS I’m using a Priority Mail™ mailer for something other than mailing a Priority Mail™ shipment! The moisture-resistant Tyvek ensures any spilled stain doesn’t soak through to the tabletop.)

As I was drilling some of the holes, one piece of the wood threatened to split along its length. That wouldn’t do, so I cut some 1″ × 1.25″ pieces of 1/4″ MDF scrap and painted them brown.

what can brown do for you

Once the stain was dry, I glued the MDF pieces to the underside of each rail, flush with the side that would be mounted to the cabinet.

Since MDF is a composite material with no grain, and it’s really dense, this bracing should keep the wood from splitting, and also transfer into the wall any weight or downward pressure felt by the outer edges of the rail.

I mean, sure, these things are designed to hold incredibly lightweight items, but better safe than sorry — or as I like to say, better complicated than simple.

This is not always a good philosophy but it ends up kinda...happening a lot.

very pinteresting

Jason’s work involves gluing stuff together all day every day, so in his bag of tricks I found these: backwards clothespins. They’re just regular clothespins in which the wooden pieces have been flipped upside down, and because this arrangement puts more tension on the spring, they hold super tightly. INCREDIBLE.

the world's smallest park benches

After drying the glue, a second coat of stain, and a coat of lacquer, they’re ready to hang! Luckily, our cabinet sides are solid plywood, so it was easy to screw directly into them.

you'll hang for this

The S-hooks came in a pack of 20 from Amazon. (OK, so I did have to buy something…but those convention-standard pipe-and-drape hooks would work just as well. So, start pocketing them next time you’re at Comic-Con.)

My search terms on Amazon were “the cheapest price for the largest package of entirely passable hooks which will be required to do very little work, and, if possible, can the item title be 37 words long?” Here is the result. They’re totally fine.

We mounted four of these rails on two different cabinet sides, and they work great! The bar for their performance was very low and they cleared it easily!!

is this article over so spoon?

Since the S-hooks are kind of wide, the spoons hang out from the wall a couple inches, in open air. This meant we could actually overlap things — as you can see in the above picture, the lower rail is actually mounted on the wall behind the longest spoons. So it’s possible to save some vertical space!

I dub this a SIMPLE PROJECT that is PRETTY HANDY. I get immense satisfaction from creating simple solutions to small problems! If you do it yourself, I hope it works as well for you, and makes you feel this alive.

Friends, I’ve come to the end of this post, and I just now realized I forgot to follow DIY Article Best Practices, and make it a 20-page slideshow in order to optimize ad views. I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me.